So, yesterday I completed my registration to start language classes at La Sorbonne. My good friend Sam told me how successful her classes were there when she first arrived on French soil without a lick of the native language under her belt. So, when I decided to shift my focus from job-searching to French-learning, I took her recommendation (as a now-fluent French-speaker) and enrolled in a part-time course. The place was buzzing with students when I arrived and found the line I was supposed to stand in to get my class assignment. I'd recently spent an entire day going between the school's two buildings near the Pantheon to interview, pick out my course, get my student ID and pay, so I was hoping this trip would be short and sweet. Finding that I was only the fifth person in line to get my registration card (which is unusual for "S-Z" names) gave me hope, but not for very long. When the guy handed me my card, I saw that the class time they chose for me was just not going to work - I mean, seriously who wants to go to class right, smack-dab in the middle of the lunch-hour from 12 to 2pm? I knew if I ended up in that class, I'd put off my first daily meal until afterwards and would be counting the seconds before class was dismissed to grab some grub.
So, despite the 20-person line to change schedules (and my slight fear of being told no and having to argue in French with someone), I stuck it out for 45 minutes, got to the counter, and made up a lie. I knew that wanting to change my class time because I didn't want to be hungry all day was just not going to fly with this French government employee behind the counter; I mean, that'd be like taking aim at an antelope without any ammunition loaded - totally for naught. After explaining that my [imaginary] job requires me to pick up kids from school at 2pm everyday and asking to be placed in the 10am-12pm class, she shook her head, looked at me with raised eyebrows and said it wouldn't be possible, then offered me the 8-10am class. Ugh. I had totally seen that coming, but I wasn't ready to accept a 6:30 am alarm clock just yet, so I decided to push her to at least make a phone call (because that's what I saw everyone else was doing to squeeze students into "full" classes). She called, looked at me and shook her head (bad news), then asked me if I was an au pair. I told her I wasn't, but she still offered me a special class for au pairs that meets for three hours a day, Monday through Friday, except Wednesday (since au pairs usually work all day Wednesday). I told her no, made up another lie (that I can't recall right now - yeah, the lies were starting to snowball) and kept pushing her to find me a spot in a 10 am class. A few minutes later, she hung up the phone, scribbled something on a card and told me she was able to find one spot in a 10 am class to put me in. Score! I was elated, proud and a little smug at what I had just pulled off in French. It dawned on me that all of the practice I've had with persistence at the prefecture was totally paying off, and a little twinge of acceptance came over me as I strolled down the street past the Pantheon.
Besides getting the class time I wanted, I found out today - my first day of class - that my French teacher is the bomb! I was a little happy to see that the younger French teacher for the earlier class wasn't also going to be our teacher, and instead the much older French woman was going to be giving us our lessons. I don't know, but there's something about an older, wiser-looking, French woman teaching me French that makes me feel like I'm getting a more authentic learning experience. From the beginning to the end of class, my attention was kept (except for a few times when I got distracted by and wanted to throw my pen at the loudmouth girl in the front row who kept blurting out answers even when the teacher was calling on someone else) and I could almost feel the wrinkles being formed in my brain. It was about the time that she asked us to repeat "On est à Paris pour ameliorer le français, pas pour apprendre!" ("We're in Paris to improve our French, not to learn it!") that I realized changing my class was the most shrewd and constructive move I've made since arriving in Paris. (In fact, I'm thinking of running for president with my keen sense of foresight.)
I had fun picking out school supplies and buying books after class with a girl from California, and I'm excited (yes, because I'm nerdy) about going to my biweekly pronunciation labs. I think this school thing is definitely going to kick my stagnation in the arse, I just need to learn how to suppress those all too familiar feelings of procrastination when it comes to doing my homework.